LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - More than a million people stranded in
darkness Thursday in the wake of an icy winter storm could face a
lengthy wait for electricity to course through their frosty homes,
even as federal help was promised to two states hit hardest by the
Late Wednesday, President Barack Obama signed requests from
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe for
federal emergency declarations. Crews - even the National Guard in
Kentucky - worked around the clock to resurrect power lines downed
by thick ice in both states. Officials in states from Oklahoma to
West Virginia fought to do the same.
Utility officials estimated 1.33 million homes and businesses
across a wide swath of states were powerless early Thursday, and
warned it could be mid-February before some customers had power.
The storm has been blamed for at least 23 deaths so far.
Many flocked to shelters, while others huddled next to
wood-burning fires and portable heaters to fend off the frigid
night air. Some who stayed put relied on gas stoves to cook food.
Meanwhile, emergency officials feared the crisis could escalate as
"I'm so worried that we're going to have a death due to
hypothermia or carbon monoxide," said John Robinson, the severe
weather coordinator for the National Weather Service at North
Little Rock, Ark. Space heaters, if improperly used, can generate
dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
Other communities urged people to conserve water because the
outages could limit supplies.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)